Andor is one of the best Star Wars shows ever made for a multitude of reasons, but a big one is the incredible attention to detail. Whether it’s a location we spend mere moments in or one that’s featured often, every single set is packed with items that serve a purpose and make the space feel truly lived in. Whether it’s a character that’s in a single episode or one with a season-long arc, we can feel the weight of their past influencing decisions being made in the present.
These assets significantly contribute to how grounded and rich this show feels, and those qualities likely played a major role in scoring Andor two Critics Choice Nominations, one for Best Drama Series and a Best Actor in a Drama Series nomination for Diego Luna.
In celebration of that honor, Luna took some time to chat with us about how the team pulled it all off, to dig into some of the most complex scenes of Season 1, and to tease what we can expect from Andor Season 2.
As an executive producer and a CCA nominated lead of the show, Luna deserves a good deal of credit and praise himself, but while discussing how exceptional Andor is, he made a point to emphasize the sky-high value of creator Tony Gilroy‘s wildly ambitious vision and his ability to execute it:
“It’s Tony Gilroy. He’s so ambitious, and he takes so much time and he delivers. Every character has a meaning, has a reason, has a journey, and he pays attention to all the details. There’s no characters there just because we need to trigger something. There’s an important reason. We are talking about the journey of someone that decides to give everything for the cause, you know? What has to happen in the life of someone and what events [does] he [have] to witness, what people [does] he [have] to meet? [Tony] has answered all those questions. I just feel really proud to be part of such a rich show. We have 12 episodes of 40 something minutes and I don’t think we wasted any time.”
I must agree with Luna. Not a single second of screen time in Andor is wasted. Everything has a purpose, including every single member of the ensemble. Not only do they all feel like full characters with strong individual arcs, but they also all come together quite seamlessly to contribute to Cassian’s journey and the rebel leader we know he’ll become.
Given the fact that in Rogue One: A Star Wars, Luna had to deliver the line, “I’ve been in this fight since I was 6 years old,” and have some sort of understanding of what that meant, I opted to ask him for the biggest difference between what he pictured back then and what Cassian’s prequel story in Andor turned out to be. Luna noted that the context is quite similar, but he was most struck by how the supporting cast influences Cassian along the way. Here’s how he put it:
“I think in terms of the context of the character, I was pretty much there. I think [Tony’s] story is something that connects easily with what I had in mind. But it’s more about the characters he meets in the journey where I was impressed by what Tony wanted to tell. The characters he meets – Luthen, Kino, the relation with Maarva – that is something so central in the understanding of Cassian. For me, it wasn’t like that when I was getting ready for Rogue One. I had to create my own backstory. Backstory that no one cared about. It was just mine in terms of, I didn’t have to get there with any other actor. My character was coming from somewhere else, you know? He has this accent that no one shares, and he clearly has left everything behind. Therefore, it was just the work you do as an actor, that you have to understand why you’re making the choices you’re making and create yourself some background story. But with Tony, it was so interesting to find out all these role models that Cassian has and the amount of sacrifice around the rebellion. It’s quite interesting to see so many characters willing to leave everything behind for a reason they believe in. It’s a beautiful story that reminds us what we are capable of, basically. And it’s through these characters that I was like, oh my god, this is so rich and so pertinent and so real, even though we’re in this galaxy far, far away. These characters feel really close to the world you and I live in.”
That right there was a primary goal for Luna and the team, to make Andor feel close to the world we live in. Or, more specifically, to make viewers “forget that we’re in a galaxy far, far away.” How exactly did they pull that off? Luna noted, “There’s a lot we don’t tell you here, but we need you to feel it.” The key to getting a viewer to feel the unseen/unspoken was having answers to every question. Luna continued:
“We all needed to know the story behind. This is something we spend a lot of time doing. Having so many conversations before getting on set, asking all the questions that you had to ask because [in] the moment on set, you had to know what you’re doing there, why you’re there, why you’re wearing this, what is the purpose of a room like this?”
There’s no leaning on sci-fi suspension of disbelief in Andor. Luna added:
“Sometimes there’s a feeling when you’re doing science fiction that you can get away with things, you know? That, who cares? The character happens to be here. In this process, that wasn’t the case. In this process, if you didn’t have an answer, you were not doing your job. And that applied [to] everyone on set. Not just the actors.”
An important part of Luna’s personal process in that respect is to visit the sets before filming so that there’s a natural familiarity with the location and the things in it when the cameras roll. He explained:
“I wanted to understand everything, and I would ask the questions. I would have these sessions with Luke [Hull], our production designer, on set to be introduced to my house or, you know where he sleeps? … There’s a shelf where I bring the Starpath Unit out of, and we came up with the idea of hitting it twice and then the thing opens by itself. That’s not written, you know? You arrive with a production designer, you go, ‘What’s a cool way to open it in a way no one else would know?’ ‘It’s possible.’ ‘Ah, let’s do it this way,’ and we came up with that little thing. And it’s something very specific and thin, [but] it’s a layer that’s there of authenticity. It would have been very simple to arrive and open the shelf, bring the thing out, but no. We came up with a little trick Cassian knows and does, that way you understand things are safe if they’re in there.”
Looking for more from Luna on the making of Andor Season 1 and what to expect from Season 2? There’s loads more from where this came from! You can watch our full 34-minute conversation in the video interview at the top of this article. And be sure to tune in for the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards on Sunday, January 15 at 7pm ET on The CW to watch team Andor celebrate their nominations!